Dat­sun Redi-Go

Dat­sun builds an able city car on the Kwid sourced CMF-A plat­form

Evo India - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy: Varun Kulka­rni

TTHIS IS THE CAR Dat­sun should have re-launched the brand with. The car­maker hasn’t had it easy since the launch of the Go and Go+, be­cause In­dian cus­tomers want bud­get cars that don’t look built to a price. The Go and the Go+ can’t shake off that cheap car feel, ev­ery­thing from the features to the seats to poor qual­ity Strada tyres feel dis­tinctly bud­get. The Redi-Go feels like a step up. It will be the most af­ford­able Dat­sun (and the most af­ford­able car from the Re­nault-Nis­san al­liance) when it is launched this month and it will also be the best put to­gether car in the Dat­sun port­fo­lio. Dat­sun cer­tainly hopes the Redi-Go will turn their for­tunes around.

Ini­tial im­pres­sions are cer­tainly pos­i­tive. From the out­side, the Redi-Go is clearly a few notches

up on the style scale for en­trylevel hatch­backs. Its got plenty of cuts and creases, sharp look­ing head­lamps, a well sculpted bon­net, a bold trape­zoidal Dat­sun grille and a tall­boy stance that gives the Redi-Go enough cabin space for four adults. It is built on the CMF-A plat­form bor­rowed from the Re­nault Kwid but the Dat­sun is smaller than its donor cousin. It is 250mm shorter in length and 19mm nar­rower in width but is 63mm taller than the Kwid. Just a glance at this car gives you a feel­ing it will be po­si­tioned un­der the Kwid to keep clear brand dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­tween the two. The Redi-Go gets a 2348mm wheel­base, which is 74mm lesser than the Kwid. It is com­pact then, but with­out claw­ing into the car’s in­te­rior space. That’s good be­cause if the in­te­rior got any smaller, the Dat­sun would lose its edge over a Maruti Alto.

Dur­ing our drive in and around Kolkata, there was a lot of cu­rios­ity about the small hatch­back. De­spite Dat­sun’s no­tice­ably low sales, the brand seems to be reach­ing out to its tar­get au­di­ence. Dat­sun may be a rel­a­tively new brand in In­dia but its as­so­ci­a­tion with Nis­san is rub­bing off in its mar­ket aware­ness. The tall­boy stance, the boomerang shaped tail lights and a first in seg­ment LED DRLs in ad­di­tion to the

The Redi-Go is clearly a few notches up on the style scale for en­try-level hatch­backs

smart front end, give the Redi-Go its dis­tinct iden­tity. De­spite shar­ing the plat­form, pow­er­train and more than a few parts, the Redi-Go looks noth­ing like the Kwid, which is why it gets the new car glance from passersby.

The 799cc petrol unit from the Kwid makes an iden­ti­cal 53bhp of power and 72Nm of torque and sends power to the front wheels via the same 5-speed man­ual gear­box with the same cho­sen gear ra­tios. It is nippy in the city since most of the torque is made low down the rev band. The Redi-Go is lighter than the Kwid by about 25kg so in the­ory it should ac­cel­er­ate faster, but it also sits higher above the ground with a 185mm ground clear­ance (180mm for the Kwid) and it has a taller stance so we’d have to clock them back to back to find out which one is faster. Fast how­ever is a rel­a­tive term. It of­fi­cially takes 15.9 sec­onds to reach 100kmph from stand­still and tops out at 140kmph but in our ex­pe­ri­ence, it felt slower. It is af­ter all a city car with a puny 0.8-litre en­gine so ex­pect­ing quick times out of it is op­ti­mistic.

The en­gine is small so high­way thrills are out of question, but if weav­ing through thick traf­fic and plug­ging the small­est of gaps is your idea of fun, the Redi-Go can be a hoot. There’s no feel in the elec­tric steer­ing but it doesn’t feel loose, so you can point and shoot into open spots in traf­fic all the time. Ride qual­ity, like the Kwid, is sim­ply fan­tas­tic for this seg­ment. The car is so light that it tip-toes over un­du­la­tions with the grace of a bal­let dancer. The flip side is that this lack of weight makes it un­nerv­ing at high speeds, speeds you shouldn’t be do­ing in a small car like this. What’s also not con­fi­dence in­spir­ing is the pro­gres­sion in the brakes. It bites hard af­ter lit­tle ini­tial hold and that means you will have to achieve brak­ing mas­tery soon to keep your front bumper clean. There’s also no ABS, a fea­ture we think should be of­fered at least as an op­tion on all cars ir­re­spec­tive of price.

Safety features aside, the Kwid is known for its first in class touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem. The in­te­rior of the Redi-Go doesn’t fea­ture the touch­screen and so you don’t get nav­i­ga­tion and blue­tooth con­nec­tiv­ity. That’s a big miss. The Redi-Go also gets a con­ven­tional in­stru­ment clus­ter, not the cool dig­i­tal read­out from

If weav­ing through thick traf­fic and plug­ging the small­est of gaps is your idea of fun, the RediGo is a hoot

the Kwid. The dig­i­tal rev counter is too small, mak­ing it dif­fi­cult to read and you’ll have to reach down near the gear­lever to op­er­ate the power win­dow switches. The door pock­ets are too slen­der, as are the doors. You can in fact feel the power win­dow mo­tors shake the mir­rors on their way up. The sav­ing grace is the steer­ing wheel bor­rowed from the Kwid and I also liked the seat­ing po­si­tion, giv­ing you a good view out of the large green­house.

The Redi-Go of­fi­cially re­turns 25.17 kilo­me­tres to the litre and has a 28-litre fuel tank. The­o­ret­i­cally it gets a range of 705km, but my ex­pe­ri­ence in the Kwid says I should ex­pect a 15-17kmpl av­er­age on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. That will give you 450km to run a full tank dry.

Be­sides the Kwid, the Redi-Go will take on the Maruti Alto and Hyundai Eon in this en­try level hatch­back seg­ment. Dat­sun is work­ing on in­creas­ing its net­work and a wider reach in the launch year of the Redi-Go should give it a good shot at suc­cess. We are told new out­lets are be­ing added every other week.

If there’s one trump card the Kwid played well, it was its ag­gres­sive pric­ing. The Redi-Go is down on a few features and is a smaller car so it should be priced at least about `20,000-30,000 less than the Kwid. Ex­pect prices to start from `2.4 lakh, go­ing up to `3.4 lakh for the fully loaded airbag and mu­sic sys­tem equipped ver­sion.

The Dat­sun Redi-Go then is not a com­pletely new car, but in­side and out, feels like one. It’s built on a mod­ern modular plat­form un­like the older V plat­form its sib­lings come with and gets well tuned sus­pen­sion, a nippy lit­tle mo­tor for city use and good enough space for its oc­cu­pants. Dat­sun isn’t break­ing any new ground here like Re­nault did with the Kwid, but then that was not needed. The me­chan­i­cals are com­pe­tent and the face is fresh. It gives the buyer a choice with­out look­ing like a badge-en­gi­neered job. That gives it more longevity. If Dat­sun can po­si­tion it well away from the Kwid, the Redi-Go should see sim­i­lar lev­els of suc­cess.

Above: LED DRLs work when the head­lights are off. Left: En­gine is the same 0.8-litre petrol unit that pow­ers the Kwid. Bot­tom: Com­pletely new in­te­rior misses out on a few features

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